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A stint racing in Belgium is a rite of passage, a life experience in itself, for any young cyclist so don’t be shy about stepping forward (Photo: Martine Verfaillie)

Any young riders hoping to travel to Belgium this year as part of ‘The Belgian Project’ bursary scheme are urged to express their interest over the next couple of months.

While the application date does not close until the end of March, riders will be expected to keep the project updated about their results – and any setbacks – as soon as the season starts. That means familiarising yourself with the process immediately is best.

The Belgian Project – a cycling news website which also sends young Irish riders to Belgium to compete for periods – is run by well known racing community master of ceremonies Dany Blondeel.

Originally from Belgium, Dany has run the project for 16 years and now stickybottle has come on board as one of the funders of the project.

We had considered setting up something similar ourselves, or at least selecting a small number of riders to support. However, the size of the racing community in Ireland is relatively small and resources are best pooled.

The fact the Belgian Project has such a proven track record, we came to the very quick decision it would be better to support Dany’s scheme. That way, there’s no rivalry for the sake of it; thus avoiding a People’s Front of Judea Vs Judean People’s Front scenario.

Stickybottle are not the only backers of the project, of course, we are just the newest. And we plan to remain involved through this season and beyond, hopefully for many years to come.

Having competed in Belgium ourselves during our racing days, we know it’s a great experience. And you don’t have have any ambition to be a pro cyclist to count yourself in; it’s a life experience in itself and something you’ll always be glad you did.

The scheme is open to juniors and U23 riders who hold a fill competition Irish licence. Dany asks that any interested riders send him a CV, which would include race results and other details – see full list here – to [email protected].

Once you’ve put your name into the mix, Dany also asks you keep him updated, on a monthly basis, with race results and any other information relevant to your application.

Riders can travel to Belgium for varying periods and will be placed with host families or in other suitable accommodation. Parents and guardians of the young riders who apply are kept in the loop throughout the process.

Good luck to all applicants!

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